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Posts for September, 2013

Ex-Gay Group Soliciting Positive Testimonials To Defend Against Lawsuit

Jim Burroway

September 25th, 2013

Rich Wyler, director of of the ex-gay group People Can Change, has sent out an email to address what he calls an “urgent need for first-person testimonials, to help defend against (a) lawsuit.” The lawsuit in question was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of four former clients and two of the parents, against JONAH (an ex-gay group for Jews), its founder Arthur Goldberg, and counselor Alan Downing, alleging that they committed fraud in claiming to be able to cure clients of the gay.

Alan Downing

Two of the former clients in the lawsuit, Benjamin Ungar and Chaim Levin, described some of the so-called therapies that Downing conducted, which included encouraging Ungar and Levin (separately) to undress and touch their genitals with Downing present. Levin complied, but Ungar resisted (as did another client, according to the complaint). Downing, who has admitted to still being attracted to men, has also included cuddling and hugging as part of his therapy. Goldberg later admitted admitted, and defended, the practice of asking clients to undress, but he denied that anyone was asked to touch their genitals. In February 2010, it was revealed that Arthur Goldberg had been convicted as a Wall Street swindler in 1989.

The lawsuit also alleges that Downing led his clients through verbally abusive exercises in which clients were directed to either act out or stage traumatic events using other clients as actors in the “psychodrama.”

Downing, in addition to being a counselor for JONAH, is also listed on the People Can Change website as a “Senior Facilitator” for Journey into Manhood, which is a controversial “ex-gay” backwoods retreat designed to supposedly make gay men more masculine. That retreat also includes communal cuddling and other homoerotic exercises.

It’s apparently because of Downing’s connection with People Can Change that Wyler has decided to try to come to JONAH’s rescue with his urgent email:

Rich Wyler

We need your help!

There is an urgent need for numerous first-person testimonials demonstrating that, yes, some people really have reduced or eliminated their same-sex attractions through deliberate interventions like gender-affirming counseling, experiential weekend programs, supportive religious ministries, non-sexual same-gender bonding, etc.

We especially need testimonials from people who are willing to use their real names; however, anonymous testimonials are needed and very welcome, as well.

Even if you are still on the “journey” and haven’t yet experienced significant change — or at least not a reduction in unwanted same-sex attractions — your answers in support of voluntary change efforts could still be very helpful.

Also, if you’ve had positive experiences overall with counseling, experiential training/retreats, SSA ministries, etc., your answers could be very helpful.

The email then includes an individualized link to a Survey Monkey questionnaire of approximately twenty questions, including a mix of multiple choice and free-form text, asking respondents about their experiences in trying to change their sexual orientation. It also asks about the client’s religious affiliation, type of therapist (professional, counselor, minister, life coach, etc.) and the degree to which the respondent feels that he has changed. The email then continued with its explanation for why they were collecting this information:

Now here’s some background leading to this request: The SSA support organization JONAH has been hit with a politically motivated lawsuit alleging that supposedly no one with same-sex attractions (SSA) can ever diminish, reduce or alter those attractions, and therefore JONAH’s claim that change is ever possible allegedly constitutes consumer fraud.

In our first-hand experience at People Can Change, this is absurd.

If this lawsuit succeeds, every counselor, nonprofit organization or religious ministry that serves SSA men and women who seek to change will be targeted next.

To help inoculate the cause against these kinds of false allegations, and to help support JONAH in its lawsuit, People Can Change is collecting first-person testimonials of men and women who have experienced a meaningful reduction in unwanted same-sex attractions and/or an increase in opposite-sex attractions.

We are also seeking testimonials from people who can personally attest to the efficacy of such interventions as psychodrama, “guts work,” or emotional-release processes such as those often used on experiential weekends or trainings.

Please help! Please answer this questionnaire, and forward it to others, as well, who may also be able to testify of the reality of sexual orientation change efforts.

 

Auditor of “Gay Parenting” Study Warns of Christian Right’s Corruption of Social Science

Jim Burroway

May 29th, 2013

Last June, the journal Social Science Research published a controversial study by Mark Regnerus which claimed that children of gay and lesbian parents fared worse than children from other family configurations. BTB was the first to publish a review which demonstrated that the study was seriously flawed and the data was intentionally manipulated in order to draw conclusions that the data itself simply could not support. While Regnerus acknowledged a few of the studies flaws, he defended it on the whole and quickly became something of a spokesperson for anti-gay activists who were battling marriage equality in Federal court.

The massive controversy over the study’s flaws and its questionable rush to publication led Social Science Research editor Kames D. Wright to assign a member of the journal’s editorial board, Dr. Darren E. Sherkat of Southern Illinois University, to review how the paper and how its publication was handled. In that audit, Sherkat found problems with the study’s conclusions, its funding sources (nearly $700,000 from the Witherspoon Institute), conflicts of interests with the study’s reviewers, and the auspicious timing of the study’s publication, just ahead of the 2012 elections when marriage equality ballot initiatives were to be voted on in three states and a marriage ban in a fourth. Additional documents release last March revealed that Witherspoon Institute was more heavily involved with the contorted data analysis which led to the study’s false conclusions. Those documents also revealed that Witherspoon Institute president Luis Tellez exerted pressure get the study published before the marriage cases reached the Supreme Court.

Dr. Darren Sherkat

This morning, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report published an interview with Dr. Sherkat, who explained further what he found when he examined how the journal handled the Regnerus paper. Sherkat described the pressures that editors face in filling their journals’ pages with content, and the slipshod way that many reviewers approach their work. Those factors are just a few which contribute to a general lack of rigor in social science journals, says Sherkat, and he warns that “conservative Christian scholars” are taking advantage of that opening:

Peer review is not perfect. The majority of people don’t do a bad job out of any kind of malicious intent. Having said that, Mark Regnerus is not alone. There are a large number of conservative Christian scholars in sociology, in political science, in family studies, and it’s surprising how many now are rising up into the top ranks. I’ve watched Mark throughout his career rise up through those structures that help to elevate conservative idea creators who are committed to the ideology of the Christian right and who are bright enough and hard-working enough to establish themselves in secular education. Regnerus has contemporaries who came up with him who today are also at prominent universities throughout the country.

Sherkat describes Regnerus’s method for identifying “gay and lesbian parents” as “simply a farce.” He also says that Regnerus “has been disgraced. All of the prominent people in the field know what he did and why he did it. And most of them know that he knew better.” But Sherkat worries that the funding of studies like Regnerus’s by conservative think tanks is creating an unlevel playing field:

One thing that’s disturbing to me about the Regnerus study is that Regnerus received a large amount of money from these foundations and this creates a very different scholarly and intellectual atmosphere. It creates a playing field that’s not level. Someone like Regnerus is now able to go out and buy his own data, if we’re to accept data of this quality.

Even if we were to say it’s high quality data, he is able to get a million dollars’ worth of influence — he was able to generate that kind of funding from these conservative foundations in a way that other intellectuals are not able to do. All of the traditional sources of social scientific funding have dried up over the last 20 years and there’s nowhere to go to get money, but these guys have it. There are talks in Congress about cutting the entire social science budget at the National Science Foundation. That is chilling, because then we’ll be completely reliant on people like Mark Regnerus and Brad Wilcox [of the University of Virginia] and Christian Smith [of Notre Dame University] and people like that for our information about potentially crucial or controversial issues.

Because EVERYTHING is ALWAYS all about TEH GHEYYYYYYY!!!!

Timothy Kincaid

October 3rd, 2012

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a program called Mix It Up At Lunch Day. The premise is simple:

In our surveys, students have identified the cafeteria as the place where divisions are most clearly drawn. So on one day – October 30 this school year – we ask students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch. It’s a simple act with profound implications. Studies have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice. When students interact with those who are different from them, biases and misperceptions can fall away.

They have a whole website of strategy, planning, tips, advice, and encouragement for the change that can come when – for just one day – kids sit with and talk to someone who is “not like them”. It seems mostly driven to erase racial or ethnic presumptions, but also seems to be attempting to be cross-clique as well.

But, to the homosexually-obsessed, this is about Teh Ghey!!! Because, you know, the Southern Poverty Law Center, in addition to the other thousand hate-groups they track, also list 26 anti-gay hate groups.

Here’s how the American Family Association described the event on Monday:

On, Tuesday, October 30, over two thousand schools across the nation will be observing “Mix It Up” (MIT) day. MIT is a nationwide push to promote the homosexual lifestyle in public schools. A strong focus is directed specifically to elementary and junior high grades.

MIT is a project of the fanatical pro-homosexual group, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). This is the same organization that launched hateful and malicious rhetoric toward the Family Research Council just prior to the August shooting of a security guard by a SPLC sympathizer.

AFA is joining other family-oriented groups in urging parents to keep their children at home that day if their local school is sponsoring the “Mix It Up” project.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is using this project to bully-push its gay agenda, and at the same time, intimidate and silence students who have a Biblical view of homosexuality.

Today, they toss the last shred of honesty out the window with their description of SPLC:

The homosexual activist group, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), has been called to task by public school administrators across the nation for falsely listing schools as participants in “Mix It Up” day without authorization or permission.

“Mix It Up” day is an entry-level “diversity” program designed specifically by SPCL to establish the acceptance of homosexuality into public schools, including elementary and junior high schools.

Many school administrators were offended to learn that their school was listed as a “participating” school on the SPLC website and ordered it removed immediately. In some cases, students or teachers independently signed the school up without approval, leaving principals and superintendents unprepared for phone calls from concerned parents.

Does Mix It Up Day seek to establish the acceptance of homosexuality? No. Not that this would be a bad goal, but it appears no where on the event’s website. Not even close.

In fact, the only tangential reference to anything remotely gay that I could find is:

During the past decade we have learned that schools experience deeper impacts from Mix It Up when they plan at least two follow-up activities during the year to sustain the message.

Two other national campaigns are natural allies for this work and can help with timing the follow-up activities: No Name-Calling Week for elementary grades and Day of Silence for middle and high schools.

Also, consider a Day of Service where you carry out a community project (cleaning up a park, helping a local nonprofit, etc.). Working together for a greater good, while crossing those social boundaries, is another way to diminish prejudice and reduce biases. (It’s also another chance for positive media coverage involving young people!)

Or, you can simply Mix It Up at Lunch again, on other days through the year. (Some schools now Mix It Up at Lunch on a monthly or even weekly basis!)

That’s it. A reference to Day of Silence as one of several possible follow up ideas.

As the SPLC noted:

Describing Mix this way is an out-and-out lie. As educators know, Mix It Up is a simple effort to get students to break through social boundaries and make new friends. Each school sets its own agenda, makes its own plans and chooses its own theme. Last year, over 3,000 schools participated in the program without incident. (You can check out some of the great Mix success stories here.)

None of that seems to matter to the AFA, a group that specializes in demonizing the LGBT community and stirring up hate. Incredibly, the AFA has linked homosexuality to the Holocaust, saying, “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.” It has also made racist claims such as welfare causes black people to “rut like rabbits.”

But when all you can think about, when what you obsess about, when your whole world is focused on homosexuality, everything is always all about teh ghey!!!! (And besides, there’s no money to be made on people getting along)

If We Don’t Call it “Hate,” What Shall We Call It?

Rob Tisinai

August 17th, 2012

One of the best lessons I ever got in professionalism came from a boss who said, Don’t just bring me a problem. Bring a solution, too. Great advice. Suggesting a solution — even if it’s unworkable, a mere starting point for discussion — shows you’ve thought seriously about the problem, and you’re not just an alarmist hack or concern troll.

That advice comes to mind now that some pundits, both conservative and liberal, want the SPLC to drop its “hate group” terminology. Go ahead and make that case, but if you want to us to take you seriously, you have to answer this: What term should we use?

I agree no one should be accused of hate merely for opposing same-sex marriage. Fortunately, neither I nor the SPLC has ever called labeled anyone a hate group on those meager grounds. For instance, here’s why SPLC named the Family Research Council a hate group:

The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as “the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,” but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians. The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Also at that link, you’ll find a damning list of quotes from FRC leadership, especially the blood libel that gays are after your kids.

More generally, the hate groups identified by the SPLC are guilty of one or more of the following:

  • Distorting scientific research to demonize gays, even over the researchers’ objections. (FRC has done this)
  • Calling for the criminalization of homosexuality.  (FRC has done this)
  • Accusing gay men of recruiting children and being more likely to molest them than straights.  (FRC has done this)
  • Advocating the death penalty for gays.
  • Holding gays responsible for Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

If we are not to call these groups hate groups, then what are we to call them?

That’s not a rhetorical question. These organizations fall in the same genre. Their work belongs in the same oeuvre. They are a collection of groups who employ aggressive dishonesty in open pursuit of an overriding goal: denying basic civil liberties to LGBT folk. What shall we call that genre?

Christian? No, their fundamental strategy of bearing false witness disqualifies them; so does their violation of Christ’s dictum to love your neighbor; besides, too many Christians abhor these groups.

Anti-gay? No, that doesn’t go far enough.

How about Groups that distort scientific research to demonize gays, callforthecrimininalizationofhomosexuality-accusegaymenofrecruitingchildren-andbeingmorelikelytomolestthemthanstraights-advocatethedeathpenaltyforgays-andholdgaysresponsibleforNaziGermanyandtheHolocaust?

That’s unwieldy.

But we do need a term. It’s not enough to call out these transgressions one by one. They are not isolated misdeeds. They represent a pattern of behavior, and we need a name for that pattern.

If you don’t want that term to be “hate,” then what do you prefer? I’m open to suggestion. Just show me you’re serious by doing more than bemoaning a problem. Tell me your solution.

Gang Style Chicken

Randy Potts

August 17th, 2012

08 Nov 1964, Atlanta, Georgia, USA --- Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. eats lunch with his family after church services and learning that he won the Nobel Peace Prize. --- (CORBIS)

As much as I’d like to ignore it, Floyd Lee Corkins, II, has forced me to think once more about Chick-fil-A and the food fight between the left and the right.  Dan Cathy’s remarks several weeks ago opened up a fault line – suddenly, instead of staying safely within our left-wing and right-wing echo chambers, Americans are debating the First Amendment and boycotts and marriage rights.  Many in the LGBT community report that once-silent family members are now sending them emails, proudly posting pictures of chicken on Facebook, and calling them late at night to quote Bible verses about death and destruction.  Just two days ago, Mr. Corkins shot a security guard at the Family Research Council and fifteen Chick-fil-A sandwiches were found in his backpack; it’s safe to assume he wasn’t delivering Tony Perkins’ lunch.

Although food has loomed large in touching off historical debate (see the Boston Tea Party, Gandhi’s march to the sea to make salt, or four college students sitting implacably at a Woolworth’s lunch counter), the food is only a foil for a larger, more important debate – what constitutes our community’s values, how do we define those values, and which of those values can bring us together rather than tear us apart?  The single common denominator throughout all these “food fights” is that in each instance a community stood up to protest its second-class status.  The same holds true for today’s debate.

The question at hand is this – can LGBT people and the unions they form, the children they raise, the families and community bonds they form, be truly accepted into American society?  Can the American dream accommodate a group once pegged by the majority as alien and subversive?  Now that, in 2012, it seems clear that the majority has begun to respond with a resounding yes, how do we deal with the not-insubstantial minority that is left angry and upset?  How do we deal with those within our own ranks, as it appears Mr. Corkin was, whose rage at those who refuse to “see the light” may translate unforgivably into violence?

In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated several anti-gay groups as “hate groups” for the first time.   Their research of FBI documents over the previous fourteen-year period revealed a little-publicized fact:  LGBT people are overwhelmingly the largest target of physical attacks inspired by hate in the U.S.  Our status as second-class citizens is second to none.  Coming from a conservative family background as I do, my first reaction when I heard that Mr. Corkins had attacked an organization labeled as a “hate group” was this – is that label helpful in any way?

Reading up on how the FBI discusses groups that inspire violence it became clear that labeling the Family Research Council and other organizations like it as hate groups is simply a recognition that the violence occurring against the LGBT community has a real, concrete source and a real, concrete voice.  When Tony Perkins talks about the “homosexual agenda” and Dan Cathy triumphantly says “guilty as charged” when asked about the millions of dollars he contributes to anti-LGBT causes, their words fall dangerously close to the dividing line the FBI has established between rhetorical violence on the one hand and physical violence on the other.  Identifying seven distinct stages along this spectrum, the last stage between rhetoric and physical violence is Stage Five when

“the hate group attacks their target without weapons . . . prowling their turf seeking vulnerable targets.”

This is what America saw on Mike Huckabee’s “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”: a community rallied together to attack the idea that the LGBT community – our unions, our families, our places of gathering, our places of worship – is worthy of first class citizenship.  Chick-fil-A restaurants and its packaging has become home turf, a veritable gang sign, and Mr. Corkins’ deplorable attack two days ago was simply a confirmation of that fact.

In our national gang-style fever, calling out hate is not only justifiable but critically important.  Keeping up the fight for marriage equality, for equal protection laws, for first class citizenship in a calm, rational manner is the most effective way to take the long view and play it out in full.  In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, pictured above eating fried chicken with his family,

“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

The Eleven New Additions to the SPLC’s Anti-Gay Hate Groups List

Jim Burroway

March 8th, 2012

The revision came out this morning, but at the time I didn’t know who was new and who wasn’t among the now 26 hate anti-gay hate groups. Based on this cache from archive.org, these are the additions:

  • United Families International, Gilbert, AZ. (Carol Soelberg)
  • Save California, Sacramento, CA. (Randy Thomasson)
  • SonsOfThundr / Faith Baptist Church, Primrose, GA (Billy and Sandra Ball)
  • You Can Run, But You Cannot Hide, Annandale, MN (Bradlee Dean)
  • Parents Action League, Champlin, MN (Note, this is the group that fought anti-bullying programs at the Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District)
  • Jewish Political Action Committee, Brooklyn, NY.
  • Windsor Hills Baptist Church, Oklahoma City (Tom Vinyard)
  • Misson: America, Columbus, OH (Linda Harvey)
  • True Light Pentecost Church, Spartanburg, SC (H. Walker)
  • Tom Brown Ministries, El Paso, TX.
  • Public Advocate of the United States, Falls Church, VA (Eugene Delgaudio)

The San Diego-based Biblical Family Associates is no longer on the list this year. It appears to be inactive. Sandy, Utah-based America Forever has also been dropped after reportedly disbanding in 2010.

SPLC: Number of Hate Groups Rise in 2011

Jim Burroway

March 8th, 2012

[NOTE: In the post below, I mistakenly identified Sharon Slater with being affiliated with United Families International. I’ve been informed that she was “booted out” in 2006 and is no longer with the group. She is currently with Family Watch International, which is a UN accredited organization, as is UFI. While Sharon Slater does support countries which seek to impose the death penalty for LGBT people, I am not aware that UFI has such a position. My apologies for the misidentification.]

The Southern Poverty Law Center issued an update to their listing of hate groups being tracked across the U.S. According to their report:

The growth was fueled by superheated fears generated by economic dislocation, a proliferation of demonizing conspiracy theories, the changing racial makeup of America, and the prospect of four more years under a black president who many on the far right view as an enemy to their country.

The number of hate groups counted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) last year reached a total of 1,018, up slightly from the year before but continuing a trend of significant growth that is now more than a decade old. The truly stunning growth came in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement — conspiracy-minded groups that see the federal government as their primary enemy.

The number of anti-gay hate groups has also risen from 17 to 27 26 in the last year. The SPLC doesn’t say which new ones were added, but as I look through the list, I’m seeing names that I don’t recall seeing before. For example, Arizona-based United Families International, headed by Sharon Slater, has made the cut. UFI, which is an accredited lobbying group for the United Nations, is on record as opposing the removal of the death penalty for homosexuality, a position that I have heard Slater defend in person as well as in her book. Another one is Bradlee Dean’s You Can Run But You Cannot Hide. You will recall that Dean, who has had close ties to Rep. Michele Bachman (R-MN), spoke favorably of Muslims because Muslims call for the execution of gay people. Also making the list is Brooklyn-based Jewish Political Action Committee, which posted signs claiming that cases of child molestation “surged” immediately following New York’s enactment of marriage equality.

In 2010, the Family Research Council, American Family Association, and Peter LaBarbera were among those who were added to the SPLC’s list of anti-gay hate groups.

It takes a particular set of behaviors to land on the SPLC’s list of anti-gay hate groups. As the SPLC explained:

Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods – claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities – and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.

Yes, hate groups have African Americans too

Timothy Kincaid

January 17th, 2012

The Southern Poverty Law Center has long since earned its reputation as an honest monitor of racially based hate groups. At some point they expanded their scope to include hate groups which exist to instigate animus towards gay people as well.

It isn’t easy to get on the SPLC’s Hate Group listing. This isn’t the Maggie Gallagher and Dr. James Dobson and Southern Baptist preacher crowd. Ignorance, prejudice, callous disregard and presumptions of superiority are not nearly enough to quality.

To qualify as a Hate Group, one must engage in active defamation. In other words, a hate group must intentionally spread vicious lies which they must know – or certainly should know – to be untrue for the purpose of stirring up animus against gay people. These are the folks who manufacture fake studies, distort research, make totally fabricated claims, and do so under the presence of telling the real truth that the AMA, the APA, and everyone else with an education and credible reputation are conspiring to keep secret.

In total only 16 groups currently make the cut:

Being called a “hate group” is infuriating to those who identify as Christians. (For a year now I’ve been intending to address hate and love from the perspective of Christian theology, what qualifies as each, where boundaries lie and the difficulty of being human while aspiring to spiritual goals. Frankly, I’ve put it off because to do it justice is a daunting task, but I really do think it may be time to attack the job.)

In the past, those listed have mostly ignored the SPLC. As they didn’t run in circles in which advocating for the cessation of racism was highly admired, they didn’t much care what the “liberal activist group” thought of them. But with the addition of some more vocal and politically connected organizations, attention has been given to the SPLC’s listing. And, naturally, rather than ponder whether their behavior was hateful and should change, a decision was made to discredit the Southern Poverty Law Center.

So today a collection of Hate Groups protested at SPLC headquarters. It was the rather sad souls that we have become accustomed to seeing: Peter LaBarbera, who organized the event, and his best buddy Matt Barber, the Associate Dean of Liberty University School of Law. Also showing up to represent the “Nazis were gay” viewpoint was Rachel Connor of Scott Lively’s Abiding Truth Ministries.

But in hopes of embarrassing this institution know for is advocacy for racial equality, this cluster of unhappy clowns was beefed up by including some African American preachers, some particularly nasty hate-filled African American preachers.

DL Foster I’ve dealt with before. He’s perhaps the most mean spirited, personally vile, directly hateful individual I’ve encountered (with Robert Gagnon as his competitor). He’s the type of guy who blames the suicide of bullied kids on “homosexual activists”. He’s the sort of fellow who thinks that the beatings and murders of gay people in Jamaica are godly. Oh yeah, and DL is ex-gay.

Tim Johnson, founder of the Fredrick Douglass Foundation, doesn’t have a high profile for anti-gay activism. He is, however, a convicted domestic violence felon. On Christmas Day 1995 he beat his wife because “that’s the only way I can get her attention.” She was hospitalized with a broken nose and toes.

Then included was a collection of ministers from Church of God in Christ, DL Foster’s denomination: Pastor Glen Sawyer, New Mt. Zion Church of God in Christ, Elizabeth City, NC; Pastor Wil Nichols, Victorious Praise Fellowship COGIC, Durham, NC; Pastor Jon Robinson, Kingdom C.O.M.E. Ministries, Clairton, PA; and Pastor Kenneth Jefferson, Greater Harvest COGIC. The Church of God in Christ is a Pentecostal Holiness black church and it is HUGE, with about five million members and 12,000 congregations in the US alone. By comparison, the largest non racially specific pentecostal church, the Assemblies of God, has about three million US members.

But perhaps no participant in LaBarbera’s little “we got Blaa People too” charade is quite such an example of the type of Blaa People that are so blinded by their evil imagination and their hatred of gay people that they would seek to discredit a respected civil rights organization as Dr. Patrick Wooden, pastor of Upper Room Church of God in Christ. Right Wing Watch caught this particular doozy from an interview with The Peter of just a few days ago (via Joe Jervis):

My belief is that if the medical community would just step forward and just would share with the American people what happens to the male anus, what the problems that homosexuals have with their rectums, the damage that is done, the operations that are needed to sew up their bodies, if you will. And how many of the men don’t even give the stitches time to heal, before they’re back, they’re out there, practicing that wicked behavior. Some are “bleeders”, men who are not turned off by ingesting the feces of other men. If the truth was told, people would literally gag. And no one would want to be in a lifestyle like that. Who wants to practice anything that is ultimately going to lead a grown man to – by the time he’s in his 40’s or 50’s or whatnot – having to wear a diaper or a “butt-plug” just to be able to contain their bowels?

Who indeed? Certainly no one I’ve ever met, encountered, read about, or who ever existed outside the disturbed imagination of Dr. Wooden. If he keeps that sort of nonsense up, the Southern Poverty Law Center may find itself in the unenviable and ironic position of having to add an African American church to its list of Hate Groups.

Full Page Ad Reminds Voters Who’s Behind “Values Voter Summit”

Jim Burroway

October 7th, 2011

The Southern Poverty Law Center has taken out a full page ad in the Washington Post reminding readers why the two organization’s sponsoring the event, the Family “Research” Council and the American Family Association, have been included in their very short list of anti-gay hate groups. The ad reads:

SPLC's full page ad in the Washington Post (Click to view PDF: 132KB/1 page)

Just whose values are represented at the Values Voter Summit?Prominent public figures will attend the Values Voter Summit in DC this weekend.

But what values are they promoting?

The summit is hosted by the Family Research Council and co-sponsored by the American Family Association — organizations that have mounted a long-running campaign of falsehoods that demonize the LGBT community.

They portray gay people as child molesters, deviants, public health threats and more. Their outrageous claims have been thoroughly debunked by numerous scientific authorities and respected professional associations such as the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Their words have consequences: Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people are far more likely than any other group to be victimized by violent hate crimes. Many have been driven by relentless demonization to seek a “cure” for their sexual orientation through dangerous therapeutic practices. Many have been driven to suicide by relentless bullying in our schools.

Whose values are these?

Is bearing false witness a “family” value? Is bigotry?

The ad goes on to list several quotes from the FRC and AFA equating homosexuality with pedophilia, criminality, Nazi’s, and Adolf Hitler. The SPLC and Wayne Besen’s Truth Wins Out held a joint press conference this morning to release a report on the AFA and FRC’s “false propaganda that demonizes the LGBT community.” FRC’s Tony Perkins is furious, and equates the SPLC’s exercise of free speech:

Perkins said the SPLC news conference reflected an attempt to prevent free discussion of ideas and noted that he doesn’t show up at SPLC events to protest the civil rights organization’s beliefs.

“Southern Poverty Law Center is obviously desperate to try to shut down public debate,” he said.

Why Family Research Council was so furious to be called a hate group

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

January 18th, 2011

In December, the Southern Poverty Law Center updated its list of Anti-gay Hate Groups to include the Family Research Council and gave honorable mention to the National Organization for Marriage and Concerned Women for America. This did not go over well with the nation’s social conservatives.

Not much attention has been paid in the past to SPLC’s gay hate list. Most, like Traditional Values Coalition or MassResistance or any of Scott Lively’s three groups were so extreme and out of the mainstream that there wasn’t much defense that could be raised. And further, some were led by leaders like Lou Sheldon and Brian Camenker that, frankly, come across in public as not quite sane.

And some haters are convenient. Social conservatives can point at the Phelps family and say, “Thank God that I am not like that hater” and suggest that anything this side of a “God hates” sign is moderate and reasonable.

But this time SPLC’s announcement was not greeted with rolled eyes or casual disregard. Instead, social conservatives – from pastors to politicians – took to the media with harsh rhetoric and a desire to discredit SPLC. Family Research Council’s online petition drew a Who’s Who of religious extremists from Lou Engel to Linda Harvey to Brent Bozell. If anyone had every written a newspaper op-ed which railed against “the homosexual agenda” or put the word “gay” in scare quotes or called you a “degenerate” or a “pervert”, then they were there. So too were a couple dozen politicians including congressmen, governors, and a few potential presidential candidates.

The Family Research Council is well connected, and its spokesman, former LA state legislator Tony Perkins, has become the voice of the far right social conservative movement. Accusing him of hate is accusing the entire anti-gay industry of hate. And throwing in such activist groups as Concerned Women or NOM suggests that even mainstream anti-gay activism has hate involved.

But still, the response was so loud and angry. The religious right was furious and their reaction was way out of proportion to SPLC’s rather quiet announcement.

But if you understand Christian theology, you can see why. It’s because, by definition, a Christian group cannot be a hate group.

This is not just a “we good Christians don’t hate” sort of explanation or some “no true Scotsman” logical falacy. It’s not even a distracting platitude like “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Rather, the idea that a Christian group cannot be a hate group is definitional. And the authority for this definition can get no higher.

In the Gospel of John, written within the first century, Jesus is credited with setting up an amazing qualifier by which one either was or was not one of his followers. Further, he empowered this with a commandment.

John 13:35 – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

By the words of Christ, one can either be his follower or be a hater. But not both. You may call yourself “Christian” and have all sorts of views about theology, but the one indicator that is a non-negotiable criterion is that you love.

And while this is in keeping with the overall theme of Jesus’ message as reported in the four gospels (love your neighbor, etc.), it takes a particular twist that can be quite troubling to those who operate as do FRC. Oddly, here, Jesus put the responsibility – indeed the right – of discerning who were his true disciples not on his followers, but on outsiders. The “everyone” here is not Peter and Andrew but, for example, the Southern Poverty Law Center.

So to be told by the SPLC that you engage in hate is to be told that you are not a follower of Christ, that your protestations of morality are, indeed, a sounding brass or tinkling cymbal, and that rather than being the Christian you think you are, you are really working for the Enemy of Christ. It is small wonder that that Family Research Council and their supporters are furious.

[In future commentaries, we will discuss the Christian definitions of love and hate, whether the SPLC got it right, and whether FRC or other conservative religious individuals and organizations can rightly be described and discussed using either word]

“86 Percent” of Tony Perkins’s Statistics Are Rubbish

Jim Burroway

November 29th, 2010

[Update: A couple of eagle-eyed commenters noticed something we all should have caught. This post has been revised accordingly. I love BTB readers.]

The Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins appeared on Chris Matthew’s Hardball on MSNBC today to demonstrate his outrage over the Southern Poverty Law Center’s adding his organization to their very small list of anti-gay hate groups.

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SPLC’s Mark Potok explained that the FRC earned its Hate Group designation due to the FRC’s persistent acts in demonizing LGBT Americans with false research and statistics. Perkins then set out to defend his group by demonizing LGBT Americans with false research in statistics:

If you go back to the Archives of Sexual Behavior, a peer-reviewed reviewed journal, that stated that in self-identified… 86% of men, homosexual men, or who engage… or men who engage in molestation of children, 86% of them identified as homosexual or bisexual. That study has not been refuted.

The study was not “refuted,” in Perkins’ terminology, simply because the finding was not considered to be significant, not even by its authors. The study, “Behavior patterns of child molesters” by W.D. Erickson, N.H. Walbek, and R.K. Seely which appeared more than twenty years ago (1988, to be exact), didn’t set out to determine the sexual orientation of child molesters. The study, of 229 convicted child molesters in Minnesota, (which, by the way, was never intended to be nationally representative in any way) was focused on the types of sexual contact the men engaged in with their victims — vaginal or anal penetration, oral contact, and so forth. In this particular sample, 63 victims were male, and 166 victims were female.

But the “finding” that Perkins and company found so exciting is encapsulated in just one sentence: “Eighty-six percent of offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.” (emphasis mine.)

That’s right, one lone sentence out of a ten page document, buried deeply within the text. [Update: — and Perkins completely misquoted it. Perkins said that 86% of men who abused children — without regard to gender — said they were gay or bisexual, a claim that the authors specifically did not make.]

The authors themselves didn’t see it as a significant finding, and there are other good reasons for it. The authors didn’t delve into the adult relationship makeup of these offenders, nor did they disclose what criteria the offenders used in their self-labeling. The authors also didn’t try to investigate whether there was any validity to their self-labeling.

And this, too, is important, because child sexual abuse experts understand that abusers often have little to no sexual attraction to other adults of any gender, which means that in clinical terms they are actually pedophiles rather than homosexual or bisexual. And while many pedophiles will identify themselves using the language of heterosexual/homosexual/bisexual, their crimes are no more relevant to LGBT equality than the prevalence of heterosexuals among rapists are relevant to straight people.

This study did not investigate sexual orientation. It did set out to answer the questions that the investigators sought to answer, which was what kind of sexual contact did offenders initiate with their victims? FRC, however, took a single sentence from a study that did not try to investigate the sexual orientation of offenders, and amplified a throw-away line as though it were the entire study’s reason for being. And because it didn’t investigate sexual orientation, it’s illegitimate to to amplify one lone throw-away sentence into “overwhelming scientific evidence” — those are Tony Perkin’s words — that gays are a threat to children.

The reason the FRC is legitimately a part of the SPLC’s list of hate groups is their penchant for taking one line from a study out of context, and present that single sentence as being somehow more significant than the tons of studies that experts in the field of child sexual abuse have conducted through the ages. We have summarized many of those findings in our report, Testing the Premise: Are Gays a Threat To Our Children? Interestingly, that report was prompted, in part, by a specious tract put out by the FRC a few years earlier. That specific tract has been withdrawn, but not because they woke up and realized their so-called “research” was bogus. They still hold to their false linkages between homosexuality and child sexual abuse here and, more significantly, here (PDF: 312KB/22 pages).

Oh, and nice touch there, when Tony Perkins adds, “If you look at the American College of Pediatricians, they say the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a risk to children.”

The American College of Pediatricians is a rump political group formed in 2002 in response to the much, much larger American Academy of Pediatrics’ statement in support for LGBT parental rights. The AAP is made up of some 60,000 members who know more than just about anyone what’s best for children. The American College of Pediatricians, on the other hand, is made up of a couple hundred dissenters who, by judging from their web site, are mainly concerned with homosexuality more than the plethora of childhood health issues that your average pediatrician is much more likely to care about.

When the SPLC announced that they were adding the FRC to their small list of anti-gay hate groups, they cited the FRC’s “propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling.” Tony Perkins responded by providing convincing proof of the SPLC’s allegations. And he did it with the slightest hint of embarrassment.

Peter LaBarbera’s AFTAH Listed As Hate Web Site By SPLC; Escapes Listing As Hate Group

Jim Burroway

March 22nd, 2010

The Southern Poverty Law Center has long maintained a list of hate groups, including what is now fourteen anti-gay hate groups listed on its web site. Now, the SPLC’s Spring 2010 print edition of the Intelligence Report goes even further, with a listing of 15 anti-gay web sites. They include:

Web sites marked with an asterisk are also organizations listed by the SPLC as anti-gay hate groups. As far as I have been able to determine, the SPLC’s list of anti-gay hate web sites is not available on the web. Their list of anti-gay hate groups however is on the web and also in the print edition with the list of web sites. Additional anti-gay hate groups not included in the list of hate web sites are:

  • School of Christian Activism
  • American Forever Foundation (Listed separately from America Forever)

While LaBarbera maintains a 501(c)(3) organization called Americans for Truth about Homosexuality complete with a board of directors, his organization is among a small handful that escaped being listed as a hate group despite running a web site identified as a hate site. Without addressing LaBarbera specifically, the Intelligence Report explains the discrepancies by saying that groups listed in both lists “actively promote hate beyond the mere publishing of Internet material.”